Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Rip Tide by Kat Falls

Rip Tide--Kat Falls
May 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Books
320 pages--Goodreads

Ty has always known that the ocean is a dangerous place. Every time he swims beyond the borders of his family's subsea farm, he's prepared to face all manner of aquatic predators-sharks, squid, killer whales . . .

What Ty isn't prepared to find in the deep is an entire township chained to a sunken submarine, its inhabitants condemned to an icy underwater grave. It's only the first clue to a mystery that has claimed hundreds of lives and stands to claim two more -- lives very precious to Ty and his Topsider ally, Gemma.

Now in a desperate race against the clock, Ty and Gemma find themselves in conflict with outlaws, Seaguard officers, and the savage, trident-wielding surfs -- plus a menagerie of the most deadly creatures the ocean has to offer.

Kat Falls brings to life the mysteries, marvels, and monsters of the deep in this fast-paced and inventive action-adventure.

Rip Tide is the sequel to Dark Life, which I really enjoyed reading this summer.  I was disappointed through the first third or so of Rip Tide because it wasn't living up to the standard Dark Life had set, but fear not--the book gets better as it goes on.

Rip Tide is just as action-packed as its predecessor.  Dark Life begins with a shark attack in paragraph two.  Rip Tide shows a bit of restraint and waits all the way until page four or five before setting a squid on us.  While the first book sometimes feels like no more than one escape after the other, Rip Tide has a more developed, intricate, mystery-driven plot.  Ty is more proactive and the plot ends up being better for that.

I love the setting of these books.  With the rise of the oceans and flooding of the land, most of the world's population lives in stacked, UV-scorched cities; but Falls puts her characters in the deep sea as pioneers with a bit of sci-fi technology.  We still get the Firefly vibe in this book, though not as strongly--no Reavers this time around.  [Side note.  If you haven't checked out Firefly yet, do.  Space cowboys!]  Falls' books just have that rough-and-tough, independent, tame-the-land feeling, complete with the good-hearted settler, the vigilante sheriff, the crooked smuggler, the town mayor, etc.  It's a western, but underwater.  I realize it sounds kind of weird, but it's good.

The main characters/good guys aren't developed much (typical teenage boy protagonist, determined, good at heart, a bit naive), but Falls does a great job with her villains.  We never really know where Shade is.  Fife is the sleazy showman that you can't underestimate.   Radder is the dumb,brute strength with a twist.  However, Captain Reavus' character felt a bit contrived.

Even though these books are part of a series, the plots of each book stand alone rather than forming one huge story arc.  Little in this book depends on you having already read Dark Life. I appreciate series like this.  We aren't left with a stupid cliffhanger designed to make us buy the next book.  It's just a satisfying story.

I like the reader for this audio book.  Keith Nobbs fits Ty's voice well. He occasionally struggles with dialogue a bit, especially with differentiating Ty's voice from Gemma's, so it's sometimes hard to tell who's talking.  But aside from that, it was a good listening experience.

One other teeny tiny complaint.  I don't want Ty to die, but a salt water crocodile will ALWAYS win in a fight against a human.

All in all, Rip Tide is a great book, especially if you're looking for something a bit different in the flood of post-apocalypse novels.

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